Top 5 PHP Frameworks in 2017

Are you a web developer or just interested in a general-purpose programming language? In this article, PHP developers from Iflexion cover some aspects worth looking into.

PHP frameworks

PHP is a server-side scripting language in use since 1994, and it has seen several developments over the years resulted in creating PHP frameworks widely used today. The language is a good fit for developing web applications and dynamic websites, which now account for approximately 65% of websites around the world. For instance, these are WordPress, Facebook and many others based on PHP.

What about PHP frameworks? They complement PHP by providing developers with some pre-built modules to create robust, reusable components and to enable faster development cycles. To stabilize the code and products, these frameworks enforce coding standards and guidelines. Some of these frameworks use Model View Controller (MVC) where business logic is independent from  both the underlying data and the overlaying presentation view. Thus MVC helps developers to focus on their specific area and breaks development modules into independent modules, increasing the speed of the entire development process, as well as the stability and quality of the product.

Advantages of using PHP frameworks

  • Libraries and tools built in the frameworks make development rapid
  • Maintenance and upgrading of the developed applications gets easier
  • Output encoding and other security attributes make applications more secure
  • There is a good and broad community support

Top PHP frameworks compared

PHP frameworks comparison
image credit:

A thorough update on this topic in 2017  was done using Google trends to get to know top frameworks. Looking at the Google trend graph below, it is clear that Laravel’s popularity has risen over the time and the framework is now the most looked after for new PHP projects.

1. Laravel

Laravel website

This is undoubtedly the best PHP framework in 2017. Laravel was released in 2011, and its official website Laracasts can be used by web developers to learn more about it. Why is it ranked as the top framework? To begin with, it has many features that enable rapid application development, such as the programming environment Homesteads built essentially on Vagrant. Its strength is based on its lightweight template engine called Blade and precise syntax, which altogether brings in more ease in  the following:

  • Organizing files and code
  • MVC architecture
  • Payment integration with Stripe
  • Expressive, beautiful syntax
  • Unit testing (fast on HHVM)
  • Huge community
  • Stronger encryption packages
  • RESTful routing

2. CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter website screenshot

If there is any possible conflict between different PHP versions, CodeIgniter comes with the solution since it works well on all the platforms. It is a lightweight framework which is ideal since it is easy to install without running any special commands or software installation, hence perfect for beginners. It takes little space (2MB) with the possibility to add any plug-ins if more complex functionality is needed. Its super-fast performance makes it easier to cope with databases. The following features allow to put it in the top list above many frameworks available:

  • It has a small footprint
  • It is developer-friendly with no need of special dependencies or support
  • It is provided with good documentation
  • It boasts a high performance
  • It requires minimum configuration
  • MVC is optional

3. Symfony

Symfony website screenshot

Do you need a stable and well-documented framework? Symphony comes up with the solution. It has been adopted by some major companies like the BBC and for open projects including Drupal Content Management System and eZpublish. High performance is what describes Symfony, alongside withits vast community.  It is written in PHP5 which also uses MVC.

One of its main advantages is multiple database support of MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and  any other PDI-compatible database. It also contains PHP-libraries, which can be used and deployed in a variety of tasks. Any component can be installed using the Composer, a PHP package manager. A quick pick of the features that earned it a vast community is below:

  • A set of reusable PHP components
  • Byte code caching which increases performance
  • Easy installation and configuration
  • Reliable and mature support
  • Flexibility
  • Security

4. Zend

Zend website screenshot

Are you familiar with enterprise-level applications? One of the commonly used PHP frameworks here is Zend. It is recommended for big projects rather than smaller ones. Zend is used to develop web products on PHP5.3 and higher. It provides features and reliable solutions with a variety of configuration options.

Zend developers take advantage of the Agile methodology which allows to create high-quality applications for corporate clients. It has a more complex configuration compared to other frameworks such as CodeIgniter, making it not applicable for rapid application development. It is also object-oriented and features tons of components for validations, feeds and forms. Other interesting attributes include an easy-to-use drag and drop editor and cryptographic coding tools.

5. CakePHP

CakePHP website screenshot

This is one of the simplest and easy-to-learn frameworks. It was written 10 years ago and has gained a wide community which is still growing. It implements MVC along with the model class.

Are you eager to know why CakePHP stands out from other competitors in the market? The secret is that it supports both PHP5 and PHP4. The database includes such functions as insert, update, delete or read data. Versions are rolled out regularly with improvements in modularity. It also allows the developer to create standalone libraries.

If you develop fast and secured commercial web applications, then  CakePHP is your option since in this case development will take less coding. Among the projects implemented in CakePHP there are BMW and Hyundai websites.  The major features are given below.

  • Safety and security
  • Safekeeping tools (such as cross site)
  • Good documentation
  • No cross-site fabrications
  • Clean MVC conventions


With the plethora of PHP frameworks out there, choosing your right framework may be not an easy task, since it comes down to the specific developer and the preferred style of coding.

PHP developers opt for a specific framework as it offers a certain structure and organized workflow, which are crucial for each particular web development project. Which is your most preferable PHP framework?